Tagged: Yankees

There’s Always Next Year…

I want to thank every single one of my Angels and the entire Angels organization for a fantastic, memorable, inspirational season.  I also want to wish the Phillies all the luck in the world…okay, just kidding.  Game 1 of the World Series will start in just about an hour, and although I won’t be able to watch, I’m sure it will be an exciting battle between two very good teams. 

I also want to thank everyone who stopped by and read my musings about the Angels, the MLB and my take on what it’s like to be a devoted Angels fan.  I began this blog on opening day as a tribute to my Dad and as a cathartic means to get through my first season of baseball without him.  He taught me what it means to be a fan, through good times and bad, and I’ve felt his presence during every game and at every visit to the Big A this year. 

I plan to continue blogging throughout the off-season.  There’s plenty of baseball-related topics to discuss as well as other things worth mentioning here and there.  I was completely surprised with my #57 ranking on MLB Blogs and I thank everyone for their support, comments and opposing points of view.  I’ve been exposed to a wonderful world of baseball addicts like me and appreciate all they say and do to support their teams.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and my brief entry.  I am sitting on my balcony aboard the Mariner of the Seas.  We are docked in Mazatlan and head to Puerto Vallarta tomorrow.  I don’t think there’s enough tequila in Mexico to begin to mend the heartbreak of my Angels not making it to the World Series, but I’m experimenting.  I’ll be back from my cruise next week and will be refreshed and ready to think ahead to April of 2010.  Because as every fan (except Phillies and Yankees) know all too well right now, there’s always next year!!!  Adios amigos!!

 

There’s No Place Like Home

If only it was this easy:

                 

Just in the nick of time, my Angels escaped the cold, bitter chill of the Bronx and came back home to the warm embrace of Southern California and the Angels faithful.  What a difference 3000 miles makes and I ain’t just talking about the weather.

     Angels catcher Jeff Mathis reacts to his deep drive bouncing off the wall in left field, allowing Howie Kendrick to score from first base with the winning run against the Yankees in the 11th inning of Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday.

Proving once again, that with the Angels there’s no telling where, or from whom, the win will come, Jeff Mathis gave us all something to cheer about.  Considering how disappointing (more like heartbreaking) Games 1 and 2 in New York had been, we all knew our boys needed to get back home to change the momentum of the ALCS series.  Torii Hunter said he was glad to be back, “…to work on my tan!”  And the generous dose of sunshine on Monday, certainly helped.

                  

Now, if you’re expecting some trash talk about the Yankees, I’m afraid I will have to disappoint you.  Let’s face it.  The Angels and the Yankees are both top-notch teams that are playing below their actual ability.  The Yankees were able to take advantage of Angel errors in game 1, but missing was their signature long-ball.  The Angels bats were cold…both figuratively and literally.  Honestly, I couldn’t help but grab my Angels logo throw blanket to snuggle with on the couch while watching that icy wind rip through Yankees Stadium.  Maybe my A/C was on too high.  Or could it have been the frozen yogurt I was eating?

                                       

Game 2 was just plain nuts.  That game, literally, could have gone either way.  There were no big heroics, no jaw-dropping plays.  Both teams made errors, neither team was able to deliver much of anything with runners in scoring position.  It was a 13 inning marathon between two mediocre playing teams.  I don’t really understand the purpose of pointing the finger of blame at any one or two players.  If you want to pick apart a team’s performance half-way through the season, go for it.  Second guess the manager all you want.  But when it comes to the play-offs, it’s just a waste of time and energy and can really drive fan morale straight into the ground.  Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.  The quicker you put a play-off loss behind you, the better.  What’s done is done, and you have to look forward with hope and optimism because as a fan, that’s all you can do.  To me, the real heroes of that game were the faithful Yankees fans who braved the rain, cold and risk of hypothermia to be there for the final pitch.  Kudos to them! 

                             

In these tough economic times, it’s nice to know the Angels and the Yankees are doing their part to help fans get the most bang for their ticket buck as they again, threw in a couple of “bonus” innings on Monday.  Game 3 looked and felt different than the games in NY.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining and I didn’t spot one parka or umbrella in the crowd.  But if Angels or Yankees fan were waiting for their team to turn it on or bust out with the kind of play that got them to this point in the first place, they’re still waiting.  Instead, the game stayed close, going into the 10th, tied 4-4.  And again, it could’ve been anyone’s game.  Thankfully, it was the Angels.  And kudos to the faithful Angels fans who braved the balmy warm afternoon with just the perfect breeze blowing in from left field and the very real possibility of a touch of sunburn on the bridge of their noses….ha.  Just kidding. 

    

Game 4 is just about a half hour away.  Scott Kazmir takes the mound for the Angels while CC Sabathia will be back with just 3 days rest.  I’m ready to see the Angels play like they have all season…smart, gutsy and balls out.  But if I’m being honest, I’ll take a win any way we can get one.  Let’s go ANGELS!!!

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

It’s Hard Out Here For An Angels Fan

I’ve always imagined how difficult it would be to root for a team that’s based in another state or faraway city.  How “uncomfortable” is it to be a Seattle Mariners’ fan who lives in Chicago?  Are you even allowed to live in New York and be, say, a Colorado Rockies fan?  I happen to live just a few miles north of Anaheim Stadium so I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by “my own kind”.  During my very short commute to work, I constantly see other cars sporting identical “Angels Baseball” license plate frames, car flags and logo stickers on their rear windshields. 

                              

With Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Red Sox just hours away, the excitement is building.  At least among fans.  Real fans.  It’s just too bad no one else seems to think the Angels have a snowball’s chance in Southern California. 

                                  

Did I miss something?  If you watch the local news here in the southland, you’d think the Dodgers were the only MLB team in the state.  Every single night the Dodgers get their extensive coverage with reporters out at Chavez Ravine while the Angels get their usual 15 second mention.  I’m sure every Angels fan knows exactly what I’m talking about, but concrete evidence of this bias?  Back on July 21, the Angels played a double-header with the Royals.  The local ABC affiliate quickly reported the 8-5 win in the first game and then moved on to other stories…without even mentioning the second game! 

                 

Coverage of the Angels was extended slightly the night they clinched the west but only to allow time to mention their shortcomings in the postseason these last few years.  How nice.  I guess the Dodgers blowing a considerable lead in their division and needing nearly another entire week to win it wasn’t worth mentioning by the reporters in the Dodgers’ locker room.  Nope.  Nothing but good things to say that night.  Whatever.  I’m used to it, as I’m sure other Angels fans are too by now.  But today, just as every Angels fan is gearing up for Thursday’s game, things got decidedly worse.

                                            

While television news coverage of the Angels is at best neglectful, at least we can turn to our local newspaper for some fair and balanced reporting, right?  I mean, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing about the amazing season the Angels have had, from overcoming their early starting rotation struggles, to the fairytale that is Matt Palmer, to their sweep of the Yankees at the All-Star break, to Bobby Abreu’s strong and steady influence, to the brilliant acquisition of Scott Kazmir, and on and on.  It’s been quite a ride, all leading up to game 1 of the ALDS where, once again, we face the Red Sox.  Fans all around the country have nothing but good thoughts and love for their Angels right now and, when my husband handed me Wednesday’s sports page and special playoffs insert from the Orange County Register, I was looking forward to reading something encouraging in my local paper.  After all, it was the Orange County Register…NOT the Los Angeles Times (which I wouldn’t even use to line my bird cages).  The Register is headquartered less than 5 miles from the Big A but do you think they could hire a sports reporter who maybe, kinda, sorta likes the Angels just a little bit?  Nah.  Why do that?  Why would OC residents, who may actually support their local team, want to read anything positive about the Angels?  

             

First, there was Jeff Miller’s story in the sports section entitled “Curses!  Angels Get Boston Again”.  Now, I’m not sure who Miller hates more, the Angels or the Angels fans.  Has anyone forgotten the column he wrote, just after Frankie Rodriguez went to the Mets, in which he implied that Angels fans are racists?  (Feel free to refresh your memory here:  Angels Less Colorful Now, Which Pleases Some , but be sure you’ve taken your blood pressure meds first.)  I’m sure Miller fancies himself a comedian but one of the nicer points he made in Wednesday’s column compares another Angels / Red Sox postseason match-up to having “multiple molar extractions”.  Gee, thanks Jeff.  Way to pump up the team and the fans.  He ends his column by predicting a Red Sox sweep in 3, explaining his prediction by saying, “Only because the Red Sox can’t – mathematically – eliminate the Angels in just two games.”  What. An. *ss. 

            

The “special” playoffs insert in the paper was anything but.  I completely regret even looking at it.  Mark Whicker devoted his entire column to the numerous reasons that this ain’t the year for a Dodgers / Angels freeway Fall Classic.  He compliments the Dodgers, mentioning their “formidable bullpen” and gives credit to their back-to-back playoff appearances due to the fact that they “became more like the Angels”, but states that the Cardinals “just look too solid” for the Dodgers to overcome.  Fair enough.  So, what does Whicker think the Angels have going for them?  Not a whole lot.  He calls them “a bit arrogant” and says their home-field advantage is useless.  Sorry kids, but Mr. Whicker thinks your Angels suck.

                     

Marcia C. Smith threw her two cents in with a column that basically says the Angels have allowed themselves to be “mind-f*cked” (my term) by the Red Sox.  Ms. Smith opines, “Scioscia would probably send Ervin Santana to bat cleanup before admitting that another team has a history of owning his.”  Are you kidding me?  Is that what a manager is supposed to do hours before facing his postseason nemisis as a way to rally his team?  How the Register could even deem Ms. Smith’s ignorant dribble worthy of half a page is beyond my comprehension.  She revealed her pathetic lack of any kind of original material by lamely rehashing the worst moments of the 2004, 2007 and 2008 ALDS games, because surely that’s what every Angels fan wants to think about right now.  Further proof of her “hack-ness”?  Her column also contained the words “Donnie Moore” and “1986”, the lowest of blows to fans and the Angels organization.  Ms. Smith need not make room on her fireplace mantel for a Pulitzer Prize any time soon ever.  

                         

I guess the 3 million plus fans who flocked to the Big A this season (and filled seats at a higher percentage than the Dodgers) are all delusional.  According to the esteemed staff of the Register, we should all just accept the fact that postseason history will once again repeat itself and not even bother to tune in or show up to the games.  Putting on the red and pulling out the old rally monkey will prove to be an exercise in futility.  Let’s all just face it.  Our season’s over but there’s always 2010.

                         

Oh, hell no!!!  My first order of business on Thursday morning will be to call the OC Register and cancel my subscription (877-627-7009).  Next, I’ll be calling the Editor, Ken Brusic (714-796-2226) to voice my displeasure with the Register’s coverage of the Angels and I encourage others to do the same.  There’s power in numbers, folks!  Then, I’ll be rushing home after work to watch Big John Lackey take the mound as he and the rest of my Angels play their hearts out against the Red Sox, just as they have this entire season.

        

On Friday, I’ll be there (T231, Row G) WITH my rally monkey AND my thundersticks AND wearing my lucky postseason red underwear.  I can’t wait to sit elbow to elbow with my fellow fans to cheer my Angels on.  Before the game, we can all chat about how the Angels were never supposed to make it past the Yankees in 2002 and when they did, it was considered a fluke.  Then we can talk about the 2002 ALCS games with the Twins and how Tim Salmon led the team in a victory lap around the field when they won it.  And if there’s enough time, we’ll laugh about the Giants having the champagne all chilled and ready to go during game 6 of the 2002 World Series.  Ah…how sweet it will be to relive good memories, happy moments with people who believe, just as I do, that the Angels can do it.  Why not talk about 2002?  Every Angels fan I’ve talked to recently seems to agree, it does feel an awful lot like 2002.  So sure, history can repeat itself, but who’s to say which history that will be?  Make no mistake…I believe in Angels.

                        

 

Angels Baseball…FAN STRONG! 

 

 

Oh, October!

What a season.  Seriously.  Here we are, days away from the start of the playoffs and the AL Central will be decided by a one game tie-breaker on Tuesday.  The Twins and the Tigers will duke it out for the top spot and a chance to take on the Yankees. 

               tie.gif picture by lafmyers

It doesn’t really surprise me that it would take a tie-breaker to determine a division.  We’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff this season.  Who would’ve thought, after their record setting start, that the Dodgers would struggle more with Manny than without him?  And who didn’t write the Rockies off before the All-Star break?  I actually thought the Cubs would’ve been contenders in the NL Central but I sure was wrong.  I wouldn’t have guessed the Mets would end the season with a record that resembled the Nationals’ more than the Phillies’. 

   

In the AL, the Yankees had a shaky start while the Red Sox looked like they would easily put insurmountable distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers.  I’ll give the Yankees credit.  When they get their act together, they really get their act together and perform like a well-oiled machine.  A super-expensive machine.  The Rangers sure kept the battle for the west interesting.  Everyone kept expecting them to implode but that didn’t happen.  The Angels had to fight hard for every inch of ground they gained.  (If you’re reading this, Big Mike…yes, the Angels did finish 10 games ahead, exactly as you predicted, but it wasn’t easy.)

    

I’ll admit the last few days have been less stressful.  I watched the remaining games of the Texas series, as well as the final three games in Oakland, secure in the knowledge that my boys had made it to the postseason.  It was fun to watch the newbies take the field and do their best to impress the powers-that-be in the Angels organization.  Strike-outs?  Yawn…whatever.  Errors?  I just rolled my eyes.  None of it mattered.  How refreshing is that?

               

Carefree?  Yep…that’s me.  I haven’t felt like this since just before spring training.  On one hand, it feels like it’s been years since Opening Day.  On the other hand, it seems like it was just yesterday.  When I went to the Big A last Monday night to watch the Angels clinch the west, the usual video montage that’s played before games to the Train song “Calling All Angels”, had been replaced with a new montage that chronicled the 2009 season.  It was a bittersweet ride down memory lane and I found myself a bit emotional when it ended.  There wasn’t anything in it that I hadn’t already seen.  But I think that’s what got to me.  I realized I’ve been there for all of it, good and bad, happy and sad.  Just like seasons past, I haven’t missed a single moment of it.  I’ve cried with my Angels and I’ve rejoiced with them too.  And no matter what happens in the postseason, I’ll do the same next year.  Because I’m a fan and that’s what fans do.  I know for many players, it’s just a job.  But I’d like to think that it’s more than a paycheck.  More than a quest for a mention in the record books.  There may be a few hundred players but there’s millions of fans.  And without us there wouldn’t be Major League Baseball.

 

Baseball…good to the last drop!  

 

 

The Boys of Bummer?

No, I’m not going to give my Angels a merciless tongue lashing.  I’m not going to dissect their lackluster performances in both of their losses to the Yankees either.  I will, instead, point out the single bright-shining event of the last few days.  The Angels gained a half game on the Rangers and their magic number is now 4. 

                               

And how did this happen?  My Angels had a day off.  Oh, and Oakland beat the pants off the Rangers, 12-3.  How else could it have happened?  My Angels have lost some steam and frankly, I’m baffled by it.

                       

The addition of Scott Kazmir to the starting rotation has done much to reinforce a slightly shaky starting rotation.  We’ve seen the bullpen find their groove with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Matt Palmer providing solid relief.  They’ve continued to hit, though perhaps not on the grand scale we saw last month.  But most of the starting line-up continues to maintain batting averages hovering around the .300 mark.  They did out-hit the Yankees in the last two games but they’ve not been hitting in the clutch.  On Wednesday, the Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position!  It’s as if all of the “post-season preview” talk that surrounded their games with both the Yankees and the Red Sox, had a terrible effect on my Angels.  I certainly don’t have any medical experience (I do have a nifty box of Sponge Bob band-aids) but I’ve made my own diagnosis.

       

My Angels are suffering from a case of “post-season jitters” also known as the “championship chokes”.  We’ve seen the symptoms before: sudden lack of confidence, uncharacteristic sloppy base running, sudden onset of unexplained errors.  We know this is not typical of our usually sharp and on-the-ball (literally) Angels but it is an ailment we’ve seen in post-seasons past.  Maybe this bug has struck early this season?  And maybe, just maybe, it will run its course over the next week and be out of their system by the time the real play-offs start.  Wouldn’t that be perfect?

                                            

I want my Angels to show up in October brimming with confidence, bringing their A game and being the superstars I know they are.  I want bats blazing, lightning fast speed on the base pads and defensive plays being executed with the surgical precision that takes our breath away a second time when the re-play rolls. 

                                         

Let’s face it.  2002 was magical…from start to miraculous finish.  It cannot and will not ever be duplicated.  But I don’t know a single Angels fan who hasn’t had a “feeling” about this season.  There’s no denying it would be an amazing story of tragedy to triumph.  I’m not saying the Angels should win the World Series because Nick Adenhart died.  But I sure would love to see them win it for Nick.  That would be a story.  And my favorite stories all have happy endings. 

 

Baseball…make someone happy.

 

 

Throwing Them A Bone

I’m just kidding.  Continuing the theme of giving credit where credit is due, the Angels fought the good fight but were eventually done in by the Yankees stealing a page from the Angels’ play book. 

                                   

(Hey, wait a minute!  Is it me or does she look a little like Kate Hudson?) 

Chad Gaudin was rock-solid through the first 4 innings.  Ervin Santana had some struggles though he managed 7 strike-outs in his 6 innings.  By the time the Angels started to chip away at the Yankees’ 5 run lead, it turned out to be too little, too late.  Tied at the top of the 9th, the Yankees did exactly what they needed to get their go-ahead run and although Mariano Rivera looked a bit shaky, he was able to wrap up the win.  With the win (or the Rangers’ loss), the Yankees became the first team to secure their spot in the playoffs.  I look forward to an Angels / Yankees match-up in the ALCS.  (From my lips to God’s ears…!)

                             

Speaking of playoffs…the Rangers’ loss also took the Angels’ magic number to 5.  Tickets for the Angels’ possible appearance in the ALDS went on sale today.  I say possible because I’m certainly not going to jinx anything.  My MLB Angels Mastercard may or may not have come out of my wallet today.  I’m not telling.  Yet.  But I will say this, I did something five months ago that should guarantee my Angels make it to the World Series.  While I can’t talk about it (obviously), when it happens, I just hope I’ll get MY credit when credit is due.  I’m making a HUGE sacrifice for my Angels.  And my hubby thinks I’m doing it all for him.  Ha.

                         

Wednesday’s third and final regular season game with the Yankees is a day game.  Scott Kazmir faces off against AJ Burnett and I sincerely hope we can get Kazmir another win.  I saw news footage today of the first snow fall in Colorado but I can tell you it’s supposed to be a scorcher here in So. Cal.  The heat, combined with a 12:30 PM game time, will have the stands looking like the Royals are in town but I doubt the game will lack any of the excitement we’ve come to expect when the Bronx Bombers come to Anaheim.  Who’s ready for a re-match?

 

Baseball…life in motion.    

 

 

Numbers Game

I’m over it…last Wednesday’s hard-to-swallow “loss” to the Red Sox, that is.  I’ve no doubt that game was responsible for the ensuing migraine I suffered with for three days.  To all the Red Sox fans who so nobly pointed out that 1, bad calls happen in every game…sometimes they favor your team and sometimes they don’t, and 2, my boys gave up the game in the 6th inning, I must point out that if those calls in the 9th had gone the other way, I could’ve been saying the exact same thing to you (just substituting 7th for the 6th inning).  But I have no interest in reliving the game (or the headache) any further. 

     

Say what you want about Angels players.  Fans will always “dis”, talk smack and complain about players…whether they play on opposing teams or their own.  But when I hear derogatory comments about our “skipper” Mike Scioscia, I’m not going to keep quiet.  No one (or two or three) players can be credited with the success of the Angels in the past seven years.  The 2002 World Championship was won prior to Arte Moreno purchasing the team from Disney.  The turning point for the franchise undoubtedly came when Scioscia took over as manager.  He has the ability to make the most of a player’s talent, whether he’s a rookie or a seasoned veteran.  He has a gift for maintaining competitiveness, harmony and real sense of teamwork that is evident every time the Angels take the field.  He also if the most even-keeled manager I’ve ever seen.  I’m sometimes in awe of how he can keep his emotions in check even when total chaos is going on around him.    

           

Angels fans wonder how he manages to keep his composure and to be honest, sometimes we wish he’d have words with officials a little more often than he does.  But others disagree.  I’ve heard him called a “whiner”.  I recently read (and I honestly can’t remember where) that Scioscia has almost been ejected 16 times this season.  Almost been ejected??  How exactly is that conclusion reached?  Does the author of that statement have some kind of telepathic powers to read the minds of the umpires? 

                               

As for Scioscia making a remark to home plate umpire Rick Reed as they departed the field after Wednesday night’s game, I don’t care how professional or disciplined you are, I would have questioned Scioscia’s judgement had he NOT made a remark.  Sox fans would’ve expected at least that much from Terry Francona, I suspect, had the situation been reversed. 

                                

I can understand the animosity fans have for certain players.  I’m guilty of that myself (just a few…AJ Pierzynski, Jose Guillen, Vicente Padilla).  But why is it so difficult for fans to give other managers the respect they deserve?  Is it that hard to give credit where credit is due?  This hasn’t exactly been an easy season for the Angels.  They’ve overcome tremendous obstacles.  Without Mike Scioscia at the helm, lesser teams would have fallen apart and never been able to pull together and recover to claim first place in their division.  I don’t know how the rest of the season and the post-season will play out but I do know Scioscia is manager of the year material.  There’s no denying that.  I’m not saying Mike Scioscia is some kind of saint (no…he’s an angel…ha!) but he’s a class-act who has had a tremendous impact on the team and baseball in general.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we see Scioscia’s brand of small-ball being duplicated all over the league.  His influence is wide reaching, and rightly so.  He knows what he’s doing.  Period.

         New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi #27 takes pitcher Chien-Ming Wang #40 out of the game in the 5th inning against the Texas Rangers during their game on June 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Girardi;Chien-Ming Wang    

Speaking of giving credit where credit’s due…Joe Girardi’s Yankees had a shaky start this season and trailed the Red Sox by 3 games at the All-Star break.  Of course, the “mack-daddy” lineup Girardi has to work with is even more evidence of a manager’s vital role in the success of a team.  You’d think a crew made up of the likes of A-Rod, Jeter, Tex, Swisher and Matsui would be able to win games just by merely taking the field.  But alas…it doesn’t always work that way, as the Yankees once again discovered in Anaheim Monday night. 

      New York Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte sits in the dugout in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Andy Pettitte had a pretty decent 6 inning outing for the Yankees.  Joe Saunders had a better 8 and 1/3 inning go of it and reluctantly left the mound with one out in the 9th.  The Yankees scored their only 2 runs on solo homers by A-Rod and Matsui.  Kendry Morales had his solo HR as a pinch hitter in the 7th.  The Angels’ 4 other runs would come from the usual piecing together of a few hits (Vladdy had 2 RBIs) and a Rob Quinlan walk.  While the Yankees were finally able to conquer the Red Sox this season, I don’t anticipate the same thing happening against my Angels.  The Yankees came into town needing just one win to clinch their playoff spot.  Their best bet of that happening is with a Rangers’ loss because, well…they’re playing the Angels… in Anaheim!  And we all know how that story usually ends.

     

So, we know that the Yankees’ magic number is 1.  And now, the Angels’ is 6.  Any combination of Angels’ wins and Rangers’ losses will secure a spot for my boys in the post-season.  Considering this is the Angels’ last home stand before the end of the season, It would be nice if they could clinch at home.  Then again, if they have to duke it out right up to the end and possibly carry some momentum into October, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  Clinching early and having some “resting” time hasn’t always worked out for the Angels.

    

 

I’d much rather see them stay on their toes.

 

                       

          

Baseball…vitalizes body and mind.

 

 

Sympathy Pains

My Angels followed up a four game sweep of the Mariners by taking 2 of 3 from the White Sox.  All was good in Halo-ville.  Then they got on a plane and entered the twilight zone, losing a make-up game to the Yankees and the first of 3 at Fenway.  During both east coast games I was basically tortured by Mark Gubicza and Rory “Whose Side Are You On Anyway?” Markas as they kept referring to the games as “post-season previews”.  Ugh.  Not what I wanted to hear as once again, decent starting pitching was wasted by absent bats. 

                  

But as I started to seriously ponder my Angels’ post-season chances, I had to stop myself and consider the alternative to this dilemma.  Granted, the Angels haven’t locked up the west but they are sitting 6 games ahead of the Rangers, giving them a more than fair shake all the way to the end.  But so many of my fellow baseball fans have already had their hopes and dreams dashed as the dreaded “E” has shown up in their teams’ standings. 

                   survivor.jpg picture by lafmyers

I’m sure fans of these teams will watch the remaining games…afterall, they’re fans.  And there’s always a chance that their team will act as a spoiler and snatch the post-season away from one of their most hated rivals.  There is a certain kind of pleasure in watching that happen.  They’ll also watch simply because, once the season is over it’s a long wait until April of 2010.  They may watch the play-offs and the World Series.  Or maybe not.  Sometimes there’s little interest in watching teams who may have smacked your guys around during the regular season celebrate in a heap of arms and legs in the middle of the field.  That can be tough. 

            

Diehard baseball fans will hang in there for all that October has to offer because their love of the game transcends their love for their own team.  There’s no shame in that.  They may also secretly harbor a bit of affection or respect for another team and will be quietly rooting them on in private.  Sssshhh.  I’ll never tell.  I can understand that with a team or two.

             

Baseball fans may stick with it in October just to watch their most despised team go down in a ball of flames.  Again, I can totally relate to this as well.

                  

                   

(That one was a toss up.)

And so today, I just wanted to express my sincere condolences to Rays, Jays, Orioles, A’s, Royals, Mets, Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Padres and Diamondbacks fans everywhere.  I’ve been in your shoes.  I know exactly how you are feeling.  You gave it your all and fought the good fight.  You observed every good-luck superstition you could.  You yelled at your players, managers and front office personnel through your TV screen or in person at your ballpark. 

                             

You should be proud.  Hold your heads up high.  As a fan, you brought your “A” game.  You held up your end of the bargain.  You wore the gear, you flew the flag, you showed up at the ballpark, you skipped dinner with the in-laws to watch the game (good), you missed the birth of your third child because of extra innings (not-so-good).  You gave it your all.  YOU did not strike out looking with the bases loaded.  YOU did not bobble an inning-ending double-play.  YOU did not blow a save.  YOU did not drop a routine fly ball. 

                                       

No remorse.  No guilt.  No regrets.  Sleep well this winter, my fellow baseball fans, knowing there’s always…well, there’s always…NO…I’m not going to say it.  I’m not going to patronize any of you by throwing out that morsel of helpful advice, usually dished up by someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be a loyal fan.  I’m NOT going to say “there’s always next year.”  But what I will say is…there’s always the Angels!!!  Well, if you’re examining other possibilites, let me give you my pitch (no pun intended but it’s appropriate, isn’t it?):

      Great group of guys with catchy little nicknames like Figgy, Mighty Macier, Bam Bam, etc.

      Not a prima donna among this bunch.  It’s all about the team, NOT individual stats.

      Cute little mascot that I swear, will grow on you.

      The best manager in all of baseball.  (Of course I’m biased.  Duh!)

      They OWN the Yankees.  Need I say more?

I know the pain is still fresh, but I just want to give you something to think about in the off-season. Consider me an “Angels Ambassador”.  If you’re thinking about making this life-changing move, leave me a comment or shoot me an email.  I’d be happy to answer any questions or offer a little more persuasion, if that’s what it takes.  Oh, and free thundersticks to the first 100 new fans who come aboard.  (Must be able to pass a slightly invasive background check.  Please have references available.)

                  

 

Baseball…it keeps going and going and going…!

 

 

Winning Words

Tuesday night’s game versus the Mariners featured the same pitching match-up that we saw last week up in Seattle…Scott Kazmir and Felix Hernandez.  Again, Kazmir was solid, going 7 innings and giving up 1 run on 3 hits.  And again, Kazmir’s performance failed to garner him a much deserved win.  But at least this time the Angels were the victors, winning it walk-off style in the 10th.  As much as I don’t particularly like close games, “closer” (and I must use that term loosely) Brian Fuentes, had better get some time on the mound in these last few weeks or he will be a liability in the post-season.  The second pitch home run he gave up to Mike Sweeney that forced a 10th inning was really hard to watch.  When he followed that up with two walks, Jason Bulger had to come in and rescue the inning and ultimately, the game.

                           

Jered Weaver had a good night on Wednesday, striking out 8 in 6 and 1/3.  In all fairness, Ian Snell and Jason Vargas weren’t too shabby either.  The difference in the game was what happened with runners in scoring position.  The Angels were 3 for 10 with a base clearing double from Kendry Morales in the first inning.  The Mariners were 0 for 7.  It was almost a good thing that Trevor Bell gave up a run in the top of the 9th.  Brian Fuentes needed the practice…and got the save, number 40.  Of course, this is my favorite 40:

                                    

As we dig deeper into this final stretch, I can’t help but think about how consumed I am with my Angels and baseball.  Consider how everyday words are taken over by baseball fans and now only pertain to the game and the road to the championship:

Clinch – Really…isn’t it everyones’ favorite verb?  What other word can elicit the ultimate sigh of relief from a baseball fan?

Division – Math term?  I think not.  There’s three in each league and that’s all that matters.

Wild Card – Has nothing to do with poker all though the term “Texas Hold ‘Em” may still apply.

Record – In this age of CDs and Ipods, this one’s easy.  Wins and losses, plain and simple.

October – The only month that matters.  April is a close second.

Yankees – Used to be only Scarlett O’Hara could make it sound like a curse word.  Now we all can.

 

            

Let’s face it.  Certain words hold special meanings for baseball fans during baseball season.  Just last week my mom mentioned on the phone that she had bought an “Angel” something for my car.  How very cool, I thought.  It’ll be a great addition to my Angels license plate frame, Angels antenna ball and Angels window flag.  I picked it up this weekend:

                                         

Ooops.  Guess I forgot there are other kinds of angels.  What can I say?  It’s baseball season.

 

Baseball…we love to fly and it shows.

 

 

The Heat Is On

While the summer may be winding down, the race to the play-offs is definitely heating up.  It’s been over a week since I’ve had a chance to praise/criticize/brag about/plead with my Angels but I’ve not missed a minute of all the action. 

                             

The Angels started off their road trip on a high note last Monday as they shut out the Mariners and scored 10 runs.  Thankfully, my week got very busy after that.  Step-son-in-law’s birthday, a couple of days with my niece before she headed back to school, got a tattoo, family BBQ, work…having lots going on definitely helped to ease the sting of the Angels’ second and third games in Seattle.  I was unable to watch those games live and was more than happy to fast-forward through them, then quickly delete them from the DVR. 

          

Tuesday was awful.  The Angels’ loss to the Mariners, combined with the Rangers winning both games of their double-header, had the Angels losing 1.5 games in the standings in a single day.  And Wednesday wasn’t any better as Scott Kazmir’s great Angels’ debut was squandered when his teammates provided absolutely ZERO run support.  Not exactly a warm welcome.

                                 welcome-to-the-family.gif image by dazzlejunction

Luckily, things improved when the Angels got to Kansas City.  They managed to win the first game on only 3 hits and took the second game in extra innings.  By Sunday, my boys were looking much better, hitting and dazzling us with 4 perfectly synchronized double-plays. 

                  

Monday, Monday…can’t trust that day.  I was ready for the sweep.  Me, the couch and the remote for live, uninterrupted viewing of the game…on a paid day off!  What’s better than that?  Oh wait…I know this one…A WIN?!?!  No such luck.  Instead it was 3 errors and 12 left on base. 

                   

The Angels are headed home and will face the Mariners again.  Their schedule for these final 26 games of the regular season is tough.  Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox…all critical games.  The Angels have not played their best ball against the teams in their own division and they have 7 more games with the Rangers, who I’m sure will be hoping to make their move and surge ahead in the final two weeks.  We’re getting quality starts and seeing fantastic defense.  It’s time for the Angels’ bats to heat up again and make it happen.  Fasten your seatbelts, baseball fans.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

 

Baseball…catch the wave!  (But don’t DO the wave…it’s a rally killer!!!!!)